Labour commits to strengthening tenants' rights

Chaun Wilson is Labour's housing spokesperson
Chaun Wilson is Labour's housing spokesperson

Labour leaders have announced plans to strengthen tenants’ rights and license landlords.

Labour leaders have announced plans to strengthen tenants’ rights and root out unscrupulous landlords, if the party wins power in May next year.

They confirmed they will consult about the introduction of a licensing regime for all private-sector accommodation in the city.

The proposals are based on a scheme in the London borough of Newham, where more than 30,000 licences have been issued since February last year.

They would see landlords pay a fee for a five-year licence to rent out property.

To receive a licence, landlords would have to demonstrate their ability to maintain their property to standards agreed with the council. Landlords would be required to undertake tenancy management arrangements that gave protected tenants' rights.

Councillor Chaun Wilson, Labour’s housing spokesperson said: "With the largest private rented sector in England outside London, it is only right we look at measures to strengthen tenants' rights and protect them from poor quality housing.

"Building on the proposals previously announced by Ed Miliband this would bring much needed stability and security to those living in the private rented sector and again demonstrates the positive difference electing a Labour government in 2015 would bring to people living in Brighton and Hove."

Purna Sen, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion - who is running a consultation on tenants' needs - said: "High housing costs and the shortage of council and other social housing mean more and more of the city’s single people and young families are renting privately - 45% more than in 2001; 30% of local housing stock is now privately rented. With such a high proportion of our neighbours in this sector we want to be sure that they are in safe, decent accommodation that they can afford."

Labour would look to align the new licensing regime with the existing scheme in operation for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) for certain wards in the city, to ensure the same responsibilities are also placed on housing rented out to students.

Under the Labour proposals, the council would have the power to fine landlords who fail to register with the scheme and recover any rents or housing benefits paid while a property was not licensed.